Mike Pence meets black religion leaders after George Floyd's demise

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Vice President Mike Pence speaks alongside Bishop Harry Jackson of Maryland's mostly black Hope Christian Church in Beltsville.(Photo: YouTube)

The Church is a good place to start a conversation about healing the racial crisis in America, said US Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence met on Friday after a week of furious protests in response to the death of unarmed black man George Floyd by white cops in Minneapolis for a listening session in a church in Maryland.

"My prayer is that, as a nation, we have ears to hear – listen to one another and open hearts," said Pence. "I'm really here to listen."

Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor-in-chief of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, where the listening session took place, joined him.

The bishop called Floyd's death "almost prophetic and symbolic of a time and season when something had to change".

"Black and white came together to address the civil rights movement, and we have gained momentum. I think we will also gain momentum during this time," he said.

"It's not just George Floyd's death alone. His death is representative of the nearly 400-year history of the challenges we had. … This government has not created this problem, but it has the ability to help us heal help."

Jackson added, "Minorities need to hear that they are valued and that people's lives are really important."

Pence said the government's focus is now "on healing and how we heal America", adding that the church must play a role in this process.

"I couldn't help feeling that a place to start a conversation is a place of worship when our nation is struck by the tragic death of George Floyd," he said.

"It is the source of our nation's strength … it was the source of our national unity and our steady march towards a more perfect Union."

Pence said that the images of Floyd's death, which went viral, "shocked" America's conscience and that work had to be done to remove the "obstacles to opportunities" that many African Americans left behind.

"We have no tolerance for violence against a person in this country or tolerance for police brutality and no tolerance for rioting in the street or pillaging and destruction of property or the demand for innocent lives, including law enforcement," he said.

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